2016….WHAT WE LOST IN THE FIRE.

As I’ve stepped back and pondered everything that’s happened over the past year, I’ve wondered, what was really at stake in the ballot box this election?

I suppose I had never really thought of it before, but it seems that much of this election season was about the elements of TRUTH vs. LOVE. This seems to be where the problem lies, and the problem we will wrestle with for the next four years….whether Democrat, Republican, or everything in between.

While I believe this election was very complicated and I’m not trying to trivialize it in any certain way, I DO believe there are a few simple answers in all this, and some introspection needed by all of us. Simply put, both candidates, in their own way, were the incarnate personifications of this thing called Truth and this thing called Love. They played a role, almost poetically, on a stage, and we are left to pick up the pieces afterwards as the curtain falls. HILLARY and TRUMP are the living, breathing example of what happens when these two entities, truth and love, become toxic and bitter rivals. They are the emulation of what’s happening in this country, and who we’ve become as a people.

Think about it, what turned you off about each candidate? Because, honestly, I think we all had trouble figuring out what we liked about them. I stood against Trump, not necessarily because of his policies (especially concerning shrinking the Fed and delegating more power to the states.) What Trump stood for, in my eyes, was the living embodiment of what it means to be UNLOVING to both yourself and all mankind.

To take away the ability for people to unify in a loving way is the same as taking away food or shelter….people cannot survive and thrive without it. If we do not take the time to recognize human beings in a respectful way that honors their opinions and viewpoints (even though they may be opposed to our own), they will feel “lesser than” and there will be no productivity in the conversation moving forward. There will be no progression, only regression, because honestly, sometimes it’s not what you say but HOW you say it. No one likes getting berated with all the things they’ve done wrong. But, if you sit down with them, look them in the eye, and create a mutual safe place for conversation, you both just might find common ground, if not, at least you will walk away realizing that the world is a lot bigger than your own worldview (…….that’s a good thing btw).

Trump represented the very opposite. He ran his campaign by playing into the labels and stereotypes that humanity is already having a hard time with. He lumped people into groups, the “good” groups, or the “bad” groups and gave people the ability to channel hate and fear towards these groups without any checks and balances. To me, this stands in the very face of Love. This defies a basic human right, especially in our Democratic-Republic, which is meant to serve ALL humans of ALL races and ALL nationalities (within the scope of legality, of course). The “We” in “We the people” represents every legal citizen in this country, no matter of race or religion. But we won’t ever realize what our founding father’s meant for us if the “we” in “we the people” becomes a definition of a certain race or people group. That is a “greater than-less than” scenario, in which, “we” is understood to be for only a certain privileged group (the greater-thans). In that scenario, we are all violently attacking each other to be the “we” in “we the people.” It’s nothing short of complete civil war and self-annihilation.

If we don’t understand the “We” in “We the People”, we will never understand how to be a UNITED STATES.

Trump stood in the face of WE THE PEOPLE. His rhetoric and language divided and created schism, not unity. Therefore, NOT ALL TRUMP SUPPORTERS ARE RACISTS, but racism, bigotry, and misogyny found their way easily through his campaign, and he seemed to ignite a base of people who seemingly didn’t want to wrestle with the question of “what is privilege?”

Without the facets of LOVE (peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control), we fail as humans. We become divided. We stop hearing each other. We self destruct and we destroy. We take away life rather than giving it, and eventually, no one is left with anything. Hate comes in like a flood and clouds our vision, and NOTHING GETS DONE.

That being said, when I entered the voting booth this election, I was dead set on stomping out Trump and everything he stood for. I had heard the rhetoric and wasn’t scared of Trump or his supporters (spoken like a true, middle class white man), but because of the humanitarian work my wife and I do, I was terrified for those minorities and underprivileged I know and love….their faces and names were on my heart that day.

Most of all, I so thoroughly believe that mutual respect and dignity are as basic to human life as food and water, I was unwilling to let the persistence of Trump’s hateful rhetoric go any further. BUT…….when everything hushed and it was just me in front of those little ovals on the ballot ticket, I stopped, and breathed and tried to remember my own soul and it’s worth, and where, just maybe where, I had lost it along the way.

You see, growing up, my family was really loving. To this day, we tell each other “I love you” after every conversation, sometimes even unnecessarily so (after a text conversation….really?? Does anyone else do that?). Love was placed on the throne in our household. We continually verbalized it and expressed it to each other as though it was the baseline rule for everything (can you understand me and my opinions a little better now?).

But everything has it’s dark side, and ours was TRUTH. I can’t tell you how many times, as a youth, I felt the word “love” being used as a blanket to cover up to some real issues that needed to be addressed. I found myself asking questions like, “yes, but why are you sorry? Why do you love me? What does “love” mean if you keep acting out in the same behavior?” You see, while my family had the concept of LOVE down, we didn’t take the time to incorporate it’s sibling TRUTH. Consequently, I witnessed things such as manipulation, depression, and even abuse. AND NO ONE TOOK THE TIME TO STOP AND TALK ABOUT IT. We just kept plowing forward in the name of “love”.

But it wasn’t love anymore. Only a bastardized version of forced acceptance and silence of things that should have received proper attention. Ironically, often times, the “love” my family expressed felt more like disrespect and apathy than unity and mutual respect.

Yes, “war” indeed. But maybe less of a class war, and more of a culture war. Ideas are powerful, and now there is such a great battle over them, truth lays slandered in between.

So as I looked down at the ballot I was struck by what a vote for Hillary meant. To me, it represented a vote against TRUTH. For so long, I’ve felt our government has grown out of touch with it’s people. It’s lined its pocket’s with our money and pushed every letter of the law around to get it’s own way, and Hillary, to me, represented more of the same. Without bashing her character (especially while she’s down), I knew, for me, that voting for Hillary only meant I was willing to continue to say “I LOVE YOU” but yet do nothing about it. That’s not the inheritance I want to pass on to my children (or the minorities and underprivileged friends I have). That’s not the America I believe in. In my opinion, that’s not even the way God sees humanity.

In the end, I was torn between the fears and concerns of the minorities in my life and the fear of losing my own soul, and so……… I decided to vote 3rd party in an attempt to save them both.

My conscious is clear. I’m not ashamed. I did what I felt was the right thing, both for the underprivileged, as well as for my own integrity.

So what now? What next? How the hell are we going to see the next 4 years through? I’m not talking about Trump anymore, I’m talking about us!!?? Are we really satisfied with what we’ve got, or can we attain something more? Will throwing Trump out in 4 years really take away our problems? Or will we just continue to spin out of control? Will the culture war become a civil war and will words turn to bullets? Will the pain go from being predominantly emotional to overwhelmingly physical? Will it take the spilling of blood to finally unite us?

I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I’m not pretending there aren’t any either. I know, for me personally, I will begin to see the active particles of LOVE and TRUTH working in my own life, and I will thus begin to see it in others. I’m only suggesting it might help you to do the same.

Maybe you are the type of person that thinks everyone should always be accepted at face value, no matter what, no questions asked. Or, maybe you are the type of individual that believes people should get their facts straight before they start talking to you. Either way, I’d suggest that you are out of balance.

If you value things such as empathy, sympathy, and compassion, you need to put a little truth in your life. Let someone speak to you in a way that doesn’t sugar coat what is self-evident. Stop making truth be just about how you feel, but let truth guide you into a broader understanding. Let it lead you to seeing reality, and other people’s feelings, as both in yourself and apart from it.

AND, if you are the type of person who doesn’t want to talk to “stupid” people. Well too bad, cause we all come with human error intact. Let love you lead you out of your dark tunnel into enlightenment. Let it show you how unlovable YOU really are. Let it be the defining guide between your imagination and your reason.

TRUTH and LOVE. These two have always sat paradoxically across from one another, and we, as all mankind have sat in the middle. Nothing’s new here. Great and devastating wars have raged over these two, as well as great awakenings and movements of great peace and prosperity. Such is the nature of siblings, and such has been laid bare within our nation. Truly, there is no better day, no greater age, and no better circumstances than for us to look these two in the eye and be honest with each other. If anything sounds like manifest destiny, that sure does. And honestly, I can’t think of any other way to define “we the people” than a nation united in their love, yet diversified by their quest for truth.

Peace to you and your loved ones in these days ahead.

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